Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week #30 - Not a Boring Week!

Sunday, November 3, 2013
Sweet, tender experiences today. We were on the road by 7:45 am to get to the Kossoh Town Branch for their very first meeting in their new building! When we arrived, we were greeted by President Sesay and he was just beaming! They waited for over 2 years for this facility to be constructed, needing a bigger building, but by the looks of what I saw, this new chapel is already too small; it was filled and Scott and I gave up our seats and moved outside. I felt such a sweet feeling of love and joy for this moment today for these wonderful people – they were so happy for this building! On a lighter side – I needed to use the restroom, went upstairs to find the bathroom. Lifted the lid right off the toilet as it and the seat were still taped together and unbolted to the toilet! I will not miss my bathroom experiences in this country.
A father and his son watching conference.

The chapel was filled with saints watching a tape of General Conference.

Elders Gabaidiwe and Barrick in front of the new Kossoh Town Branch.
I turned around and this little saint has my backpack on!
President Sesay of the Kossoh Branch - so happy to be in their new building.

Scott, me and Elder Flament outside the Kossoh Town Chapel

Future Relief Society, YW, Primary Presidency.

About 2 hours into the meeting, I suggested to Scott that we drive another 20 minutes out to Waterloo to deliver a much needed journal to Elder Turner. He has been very faithful writing daily in his journal, but when he finished with the last one and the mail had not arrived with two more journals from his mom, he was frantic trying to find paper to write on; his mom emailed me about the dilemma and I told her at the very least we would get a tablet of paper to him. Scott came up with an unused journal he brought from home, so we decided to take that to him. We pulled up to the chapel and I got out of the car to go find him. When I caught his eye inside the chapel, I motioned him to come outside for just a moment and when he approached the car, I handed him the journal. I have never seen someone so excited over a journal. He so wanted to give me a hug, but he found Scott and they had such a warm embrace. It was a tender moment. But the rest of the story came when we got back in the car and Scott shared with me a dream that Elder Turner's companion had the night before – he dreamed that a missionary couple would be visiting the Waterloo Branch today (he has never met us), and he shared that with Elder Turner who had no indication that anyone would be visiting today because we hadn't called him to tell him of such plans. So, the fleeting thought I had in Kossoh Town hopeful we might make it to Waterloo was the fulfillment of a dream and the answer to prayer of another missionary who desperately needed a journal. And, to top it all off Elder Turner was hoping for a journal from his mom with a picture of the Savior on it and the word “Missionary Journal” printed on it. We were able to answer that request as well.
We visited 4 out of 6 branches today.
Elder Turner was so happy with our surprise visit with the gift of a journal.

Elders Turner and Mukwaira with journal and peanut butter in hand!

On our way back home, we stopped at the mission office and 3 hours later, I had entered the last of the CDE's that had been turned in unexpectedly. We got home, and I had a much needed nap. I then had a PPI with Scott (personal priesthood interview). It was much needed and appreciated. We are so busy on this mission, we rarely take time with each other to just talk and share; 2 hours of undivided, no distracted time was much needed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Yesterday, being P Day was laundry for most of the day. The washing machine can only handle about 5 pairs of socks and a towel and it is filled to capacity so it takes me a good portion of the day to wash the clothes. Monday is the day of choice because we can then turn on the noisy generator so Rachelle and I can use our dryer's simultaneously; otherwise, when the quiet generator is running and we are both drying, it trips, and shuts down all the power.

Today I finished up the CDE's for the month and am now starting to take inventory of what we will need in 3 weeks for 4 more apartments. So while I am down in the cage looking around, President Swarray shows up on the scene and starts up a conversation with Scott and me. He is such a kind and gentle man. Markus is milling around as well as Ali, loading up a truck to take furniture out to Wellington. It is November and it is hot and I am sweating and wishing I was back upstairs in the air conditioned office, but being around these “brothers” is such a joy; they are genuinely so happy and laugh so easily. We take Markus with us to look at an apartment in Hill Station. It is quite nice and it is two apartments side-by-side and we will likely rent them. Markus comes along because he knows the area so well and can tell if it is safe or not; he also helps negotiate the price. I can't help but wonder what he is thinking when he sees all the apartments we rent for missionaries that are so much nicer than his own home where there is his wife, 5 of his own children and 2 additional children who he is raising; all packed into a very small home. I am always a little uncomfortable when he is with us just for that reason. He is invaluable to us though, in acquiring apartments so he must come with us.

Thursday, November 7, 2013
Very busy and fulfilling day. It started this morning at 7:15 with Rachelle and I walking up to the US Embassy and beyond – further than I had previously walked. We meet so many little school children in the morning and they are so bright and cheery; most always with a hand outstretched wanting to touch our hands. Older folks commenting on our exercise and wishing us a good morning. It is very uplifting and refreshing to be out amongst them as they go about their daily lives. On our way back down, this little male dog approached the back of Rachelle and kind of rubbed up against her legs; she stopped and then the dog came up to me with his tail wagging; I let him sniff my hand and he licked it and then I just couldn't resist the urge to pet him. He sat down close to my feet and I rubbed under his chin for just a few moments. It probably was more beneficial to me than to him. Hopefully the locals around me this morning had a moment of viewing the relationship between “man and canine.”
Rachelle Ostler

We had Zone Conference today in Kissy. 
Kissy Zone hamming it up!

Kissy Zone

Scott and I found a watermelon from our local fruit/vegetable lady so we cut it up and took it with us today. The missionaries loved it. The conference lasted until 3:30 pm and by the time we left around 4:00 it took us over 3 hours to get home! At one point because it was at a standstill, I got out of the car to try and figure out what was going on. Found out some memorial service was being held downtown to honor and commemorate the war veterans. For the most part, I have grown accustomed to the vehicle and pedestrian traffic here, but by far, today was the most exasperating! Scott held it together quite well – not too much Darth Vader.
We found watermelon! I don't even like it but am grateful to have found it.

When we got home, at the front of our door were two packages from the states. One was for us from dear friends in Sacramento, and it was filled with dried fruit, nuts, hand sanitizer and Scott's favorite lotion. We are very happy and grateful not only for all the goodies, but for all the prayers in our behalf from loved ones at home.

3 months but the package finally arrived for Elder Penia from the YW of the Del Norte ward.

Friday, November 8, 2013
Attended the Waterloo Zone Conference today, which consists of Kossoh Town, Grafton and Waterloo districts. It is always such a treat to spend time with the missionaries. At the conclusion, the Ostlers drove on to Makeni to organize the branch, call a branch president, and attend church for the first time in the new building. Scott and I, on the other hand, took the assistant's with us back to Freetown but first drove around the “back roads” of Waterloo randomly looking for any apartment that might be available to rent. We must have an apartment in this town by the next transfer coming up in two weeks. It was pouring and we were just driving around looking with no real agenda because we had no contacts to help us; Richard Carlos had one that he knew of and we met up with him to look at it, but it is just too big so we must kept looking. We came upon a home with a woman sitting in her garage. We looked off to the right and saw what looked like an apartment and we asked her if she knew if it was for rent. She gave us a name and a phone number and we called it later in the day and set up an appointment tomorrow to look at it.
Waterloo Zone Conference
Slothful vs. Profitable Missionary

Saturday, November 9, 2013
What a day! I woke up at my usual 6:30 am time and immediately started thinking about the need for apartments with a 2-week window and just felt overwhelmed. We needed to get to the mission office by 10:00 am so in my determination to get as much done as I could in the morning, I overlooked the most important task – that of my morning prayer. For as many years as I have been praying in the mornings, if I don't make it the first priority, it doesn't get the attention it needs and is usually forgotten as I get into the day. So upon arrival at the mission office, I took my leave of Scott and went into the president's office, closed the door and prayed. I started, and the tears started to flow as I felt so overwhelmed with the realization, I am nothing without Him – and the location of apartments could be very easy if He just stepped in and said, “This is the one, I have provided it for you.” But it hasn't been the way it has worked as we continue to plead and search and inquire.

So, in my pleadings a hymn came into my mind – Guide Us O Thou Great Jehovah – and wept as I sang the first verse and made it more personal.
"Guide me, O though great Jehovah, Guide me to the promised land (apartment). I am weak, but thou art able; Hold me with thy pow'rful hand. Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Feed me till the Savior comes, Feed me till the Savior comes."
I took great comfort and strength as we left to drive out to Waterloo to see the apartment and upon arrival and inspection, made a verbal commitment with the landlord to rent it and hope to finalize the deal next week (a little miracle).
On our way to Waterloo driving the main road, who crosses on foot in front of us, but President Kamara of the Waterloo Branch. We pull over to talk to him and inquire about the birth of his baby, when he informs us he has been born and doing fine; I asked if they had a name for him and he said of course - he would be naming him after Scott because we were so much a part of the branch given we were out there at the beginning of its creation. We were very touched by his declaration and will definitely be attending the branch in December when he gives his son a name and a blessing.

From Waterloo we drove to Calaba Town to look at another apartment; a man we have been dealing with who has an apartment in Bo, has connections in Calaba Town. We met up with him and his associate and Scott went off to check out the apartment while I sat in the car. I received a phone call from Elder Seraphine that they still had not gotten a water delivery as scheduled yesterday, and they were completely out! I was a little chagrined about that and did not know why Markus had not made the arrangements to deliver it so I got on the phone with him and found out there was mis-communication in the office on Friday and the thought was they could get through the week-end without a delivery. I had a package from the states and a couple of letters for Elder Seraphine so we decided to drop by their apartment in Wellington on the way home and check on the water situation.

The miracle of water in Wellington!

And the bucket is slowly being filled!

Elders Pond and Serafine and the blessing of water!

We pulled up in front of the apartment to wait for the missionaries. To our amazement and astonishment, right in front of their apartment is a well tapped with two faucets and local people filling their containers for the evening. I am thinking, why haven't the missionaries used this source when they are out? We see them approaching us with a yellow jug with water in it, so they have brought it from their baptismal service at the Thunder Hill Chapel. I look at them and I point them to the water flow and they quickly get all the buckets they have and get in line to fill them. In the meantime, I go inside their apartment compound and to the side of the apartment there is a spigot; Scott turns it on and out comes muddy water that turns into “clear” water and we now have another source for them on this miracle Saturday of the water. I was so disappointed that our commitment to deliver water to them on Friday had failed and felt so much better to see water sources all around them. It was a tender mercy.

I came upon a little green bird in their compound; it had flown into the outside wall and injured one of its wings and couldn't fly. 

Cutest little thing – I hope it survives to live another day until it can fly. I know death is part of living, and I have had more exposure to it here than at any other time in my life and it has been difficult for me embrace it and accept it. I told Scott, I don't think there has been a day here that I haven't shed a tear over something or someone. He agreed.

We arrived back home around 7:00 pm very tired but feeling so blessed. While fixing dinner, I got a text from Rachelle regarding Makeni, and I quote: “By the way, the Makeni church is in the perfect location. The sign with the church's name was put up this morning and I think the elders got names from about 20 walk-ins in addition to members from other areas that didn't know there was a church in Makeni. Well done.” What a wonderful message to end the day as we had quite a bit of involvement in the securing of that location along with Prince Kallie and are thrilled with excitement of a branch in Makeni.

Love and Gratitude, Robin

These are not my pants hanging out to dry at the gate of the Kissy Chapel!

Love the rolled cuffs on Elder Barrick's pants. It is getting so hot as we are go into dry season!

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